By Daniel Halsey, President, Hanover Personal Lines, August 25, 2021
This article was originally published on propertycasualty360.com.
As a consumer’s life changes, there are many obvious triggers for insurance evaluations – like buying a home or new vehicle. It’s the more unknown risks that arise as new technologies emerge, or as children grow up, that create opportunities for independent agents to have regular conversations with customers on evolving insurance needs. Consumers face many changing risks that make it critical for them to have a trusted adviser who examines these new vulnerabilities and offers protection solutions. Similarly, growth-orientated independent agents need carrier partners who monitor the changing risk landscape and introduce protection options in response.
Cyberbullying is one of those lesser-known emerging risks that account-focused agents can tap into to open the door to a full risk assessment and identify coverage gaps. The Hanover Insurance Group commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey, which found that 43% of parents with children under age 18 say their children have experienced cyberbullying in the past year.
With school starting up again, student bullies are back in class and more connected than ever. Last year, schools were forced to combine virtual and in-person learning. Cyberbullying has increased at a troubling rate over the past 18 months and continues to be a significant risk. According to a report from L1ght, hate speech among children and adolescents has increased by 70% since March 2020. Some insurance carriers have recognized this growing trend and created protection for families facing the risks of cyberbullying, making this back-to-school season a good opportunity for agents to talk to their customers about the unique insurance offerings available today.
With the guidance of an independent insurance agent, consumers can add a home cyber endorsement to their existing homeowner’s insurance policies to provide added protection. This endorsement provides coverage for a variety of cyber-related risks, including costs directly resulting from a cyberbullying incident.
However, not all endorsements are created equally. A home cyber endorsement includes a variety of valuable coverages, such as:
- Private tutoring expenses – Students may need to stay home from school for mental health reasons, therapy appointments, or for longer periods of time in more severe cases. To keep children from falling behind, families often hire in-home tutors. This is a costly expense that could be covered by a home cyber endorsement.
- Alternative schooling – While the bullying might occur virtually, a student may seek alternate schooling. Enrolling in a new school can be expensive, especially if the student attends a private institution or requires extra transportation costs. For example, a covered incident could include a situation in which a child traumatized by cyberbullying is advised by a mental health provider that changing schools is recommended for optimal recovery. A cyber policy could cover some unreimbursed enrollment expenses for relocation costs to switch to the alternate school.
- Counseling services – Bullied youth (and families) often benefit from ongoing counseling. GoodRx reports that an average hour-long therapy appointment can cost up to $250, and some comprehensive endorsements may cover these costs as a result of the bullying incident.
- Related legal expenses – Cyberbullying can result in families retaining legal services to remove online content or simply to seek legal advice. Innovative insurance carriers provide policyholders with coverage for some legal expenses, if needed.
- Social monitoring software or apps – Look for a carrier that covers the purchase of mobile applications, social monitoring software, and web-based products to prevent further bullying. For example, if parents believe their child was the target of consistent online bullying, they could purchase social monitoring software to prevent further cyberbullying of their child. These expenses could be covered by a cyber policy.
Consumer education is critical and allows agents to be a “total risk” resource for their customers. The same Hanover/Harris Poll survey revealed nearly half of parents with kids under 18 (49%) have never heard of, or are not familiar with, cyberbullying insurance, yet two-thirds of those parents (66%) would be likely to purchase cyberbullying insurance to cover all children in their household for a price of $50 per year.
Independent agents who understand the severity of cyberbullying and work with carriers that provide unique protection for these types of risks, as well as other emerging trends, can build even stronger client relationships. Whether pointing to the growing need for water backup protection, how keeping inventory for a home-based business may require special coverage, or bringing home a new dog may impact insurance needs, discussions about lesser-known risks and evolving needs enable account-focused agents to provide end to end protection for customers. These regular conversations on new risks individuals face as their lives change lead to total account opportunities for independent agents.
About the author
Daniel Halsey is president of personal lines at The Hanover Insurance Group Inc.